Himachal Pradesh despatches 74 lakh boxes of apples


Shimla : The apple season in Himachal Pradesh has finally picked up with 7,400,000 boxes having been transported out of the state.

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“The apple season is in full swing and 74 lakh boxes have reached various markets in the country. Almost 40 percent of the total crop has been sold out,” Horticulture Minister Narender Bragta told IANS.

He said the arrivals from Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts, known for the natural sweetness of their apple crop, would pick up in the next 15 days.

Apples from Chango, Ribba and Namgiya valley of Kinnaur and Hurling in the Spiti valley are always in high demand.

However, according to estimates of the state horticulture department, the total apple production this season will be around 18 million boxes of 25 kilograms each, considerably less than last year’s 26 million crates.

At the same time, this season’s crop was fetching record prices, said Kanwar Dayal Krishan Singh, an apple grower from Kotkhai village in Shimla district.

“Though the crop has been badly affected due to weather vagaries, farmers are still getting handsome returns. In fact, over the past one week, rates have bounced back again due to the short supply.”

A 25-kilogram box of Royal Delicious variety is getting over Rs.1,500, against Rs.1,000 last year, he said.

Bragta said undersized and hail-hit apples were also commanding higher rates.

“This year, only 320 tonnes of the fruit have been procured so far under the market-intervention scheme. It was over 6,500 tonnes last year,” he said.

Under the market-intervention scheme, the state-run Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corp procures undersized and hail-affected apples directly from farmers for making juices and nectars.

Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 200,000 families engaged in the cultivation of the fruit.

The apple economy of the state is around Rs.1,500 crore and flourishes mainly in Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba districts.

Besides apples, other fruits like cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwi, strawberry, olive, almonds and plums are the major commercial crops of the state.